By Jason Theodorou

China is lining up a bid for the 2026 World Cup, after seeing the success enjoyed by hosts South Africa in holding this year's tournament. China's football chief said that now is the 'best time' for the country to launch a bid.

Wei Di, head of the Chinese Football Association (CFA), said: 'It really moved us to see all the social benefits South Africa got from hosting the World Cup'. He told the Beijing Youth Daily that he had seen in South Africa 'how a World Cup could unite a country and improve its football'.

China has previously held off from launching a bid for the World Cup, due to its low level of play and an infamous corruption scandal in which former CFA chief Nan Yong and two senior colleagues were arrested for match-fixing and bribery. The success of the South Africa tournament, combined with China's successful hosting of the Olympic Games in Beijing in 2008, has renewed enthusiasm for hosting the World Cup.

The Chinese Football Assocation (CFA) plans to submit a proposal to the General Administration of Sports (GAS), that it be allowed to move forward with a formal bid to host the tournament. Wei Di said that China was equipped to stage the world cup with the required stadiums, and public enthusiasm for the sport.

China did not qualify for this year's World Cup. Bidding is underway for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, and winners will be announced by FIFA this December.

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